BRANSON’S Virgin Rocket Takes Satellites Into Orbit for the first time
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit rocket company, has finally succeeded in putting its first satellites up into space, using Cosmic Girl, one of his modified 747 Jumbo jets as the carrier, after failing with his previous attempt in May 2020.
The jet took off from its base in the Mojave desert in California at 10:38am local time, and flew out over the Pacific, then, just one hour later, flying at an altitude of 35,000ft, it banked hard right and dropped LauncherOne, the 21m-long rocket that was clamped under its left wing.
Seconds later, this booster’s engine ignited and it climbed up into space and two hours later, correct deployment of the various spacecraft onboard at an altitude of roughly 500km was confirmed, with the rocket containing ten payloads.
By using a jet plane as the launch platform, Sir Richard is hoping to tap into the growing low-cost-satellite market, and in theory, it means he can launch his spacecraft from any location in the world, as long as his Virgin Orbit system is licenced in the area he launches from, which for now, is only California.
Will Whitehorn, the president of UKSpace, the trade body representing the space industry in Britain, and former president of Branson’s Virgin Galactic told the BBC, “This is a momentous day for the small satellite world, as we will be able to launch satellites responsively, and for the UK this event promises sovereign launch capability very soon”.
He added, “I plan to push hard for a launch from Cornwall to coincide with the G7 meeting this year if at all possible!”.
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